Lebanon's caretaker Minister of Defence, Zeina Aker, issued a directive on Sunday to freeze firearms licences amid fears that escalating popular protests could descend into armed conflict. The directive will be effective from Monday for an indefinite period. Diplomatic missions, politicians and heads of religious groups, and their personal staff are exempt from the new rules.
Angry protests have escalated in Lebanon since last Tuesday when the Lebanese currency recorded a historic collapse against the US dollar with an exchange rate of more than 10,000 pounds on the black market.
The protests have spread to Beirut, Sidon, Tripoli, and Baalbek. Protesters have blocked major roads in and around the capital as well as in the north and south of the country. In response, caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab has threatened to refrain from performing his duties to put pressure on the country's politicians to form a new government.
A number of Lebanese newspapers warned on Sunday that the country is on the verge of collapsing into an endless cycle of violence.